Côte Restaurants has been bought out of administration by private equity investor Partners Group with former Wagamama chief executive Jane Holbrook appointed to lead its growth strategy as chairperson.
The casual dining brand, which has almost 100 UK sites, suffered a "significant loss of revenue and earnings" due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in the appointment of administrators and today's sale, which secures the future of 94 of the 98 Côte sites. Three additional restaurants operating under the Limeyard and Jackson & Rye brands were not included in the sale and will close, resulting in 56 redundancies.
Christian Ebert, managing director of Partners Group, said: "We see a strong brand with a good following, great quality food and a differentiated operating setup. While the mandatory closure of all Côte's restaurants due to Covid-19 resulted in a significant loss of revenue and earnings, the brand remains as well-regarded as ever and uniquely positioned in the UK restaurant scene.
"We are excited to onboard the Côte business to the Partners Group platform and welcome more than 3,000 Côte employees. The Partners Group resources and entrepreneurial governance approach will allow Côte to emerge from the pandemic even stronger."
The group's latest financial results, for the year to 28 July 2019, reported turnover growth of 7% to £156.6m. Gross profit had increased to £18.4m, from £17.9m, but despite this parent company Taste Midco 1 reported a post-tax loss of £34.5m.
Holbrook, who takes the position of chair of the group's board, joined Wagamama as chief financial officer in 2014 and was promoted to chief operating officer in April 2016, before becoming chief executive the following year.
She led the company through a period of expansion that saw it consistently outperform the wider casual dining sector resulting in the business' sale to the Restaurant Group in a deal that valued the company at £559m towards the end of 2018.
Commenting on her new appointment she said: "Alex [Scrimgeour, CEO] and his team have built a great business and a much loved brand. I'm really delighted to be joining it as we undertake the next phase of development and growth. Exciting times ahead!"
Scrimgeour added: "Côte is a well-established business that traded strongly before the crisis and moved quickly to serve loyal customers at home during lockdown. New safety protocols enabled Côte to welcome back guests into the restaurants. The entire Côte team is excited to continue its success story with the strong backing of Partners Group."